In early November, Bellmont Partners welcomed a new Senior Account Executive to the team. Her arrival feels a bit like a full-circle moment for some of us.
After 16 years supporting various projects on behalf of Midwest Dairy and more than 5,000 dairy farmers throughout the region – including Minnesota’s famous Princess Kay of the Milky Way program – we’re excited to welcome a former journalist we’ve worked closely with for most of that time: Krista Kuzma. Krista, a former associate editor at a dairy industry newspaper, served as a dairy princess/ambassador while growing up on a dairy farm in southern Minnesota. We talked with her about her love of telling stories – both about the dairy industry’s people and products, and across nearly every other industry.
Tell us about growing up on a farm.
My parents and several extended family members run Sheeknoll Farms, a 300-cow and 900-acre dairy farm just outside Rochester, Minnesota. Some of my favorite memories growing up happened while helping with chores. Most people don’t think chores are fun, but I think they are – at least most of the time. It was so much fun to both work and play alongside my siblings and cousins, with so much space to run around and never a shortage of things to do. My earliest memories are of helping my mom feed calves, and now I love to take my daughters (Eleanor, 6, and Charlotte, 3) out to the farm to help, too.
What sparked your interest in telling stories?
As a 4‑H member and dairy ambassador growing up, I spent plenty of time telling people about dairy. I was always passionate about sharing our story and loved teaching people about how milk traveled from the farm to their tables, so I decided to pursue a career in elementary education after college. It didn’t take me long to learn that teaching wasn’t quite the right fit for me, so I switched gears and started taking communication classes. I realized I loved writing, especially when it gave me a chance to talk to people and hear their stories. I love it when other people get so excited about things they want to share. That gets me get excited about their stories and makes me want to get other people excited about them.
Tell us about some of your favorite assignments.
Wow, there are so many that have been so fun. I love being in someone else’s element where they have a chance to show me what they’re doing and why they’re excited about it. It’s been rewarding to be a dairy community reporter and do so many on-farm interviews. I love it when a farm family gets excited about a new project that’s going to help create more opportunities for their operation, or when they’re excited about a hobby or some other unique or unexpected interest. There have also been some fun off-farm moments, including covering Princess Kay of the Milky Way and Fuel Up to Play 60 students on the field at a Vikings game, watching dairy farmers interact with football fans at the Super Bowl Experience and traveling to California to cover World Ag Expo.
What’s it like being “on the other side” of the story pitching process?
It has been exciting and eye-opening. I didn’t realize how many opportunities there are to share stories with people, and it’s been fun to think about storytelling from a content perspective. It’s also been fun getting to know all of the different types of clients in our portfolio. I’m excited to be able to keep telling stories about all the good things that are going on in the world, especially in the midst of the past couple years’ worth of challenging stories.
Quick, without thinking about it: what’s your favorite assignment – 300 words or 3,000 words? And why?
Three thousand – as long as my subject matter has plenty of information to share. I like to be able to dive into a story a bit more. Our typical word counts at Dairy Star were 800 to 1,200 words, and it was so great to be able to have that much room to explore something.
One thing I am noticing about the transition from a newspaper to public relations is that some of those longer word counts allow for more opportunities to use creative language. That’s been really fun.
Speaking of fun, tell us about your hobbies outside of work.
Outside of our home, our two happy places are the farm and my husband’s family’s cabin near Ely. We like to take our daughters on small adventures, especially in nature, and are on a mission to visit every state park. As the girls get older, we’re going to explore national parks. Last year, we lost our family dog, Gus, who was an awesome hiking buddy, so we also hope to get another puppy someday.